Playoff Predictions

Posted: November 10, 2011

The football playoffs will begin in earnest this weekend, with District 1 joining the party in all four classifications.

Before we provide our selections in some of the top games, here is how we see the District 1 Class AAAA and AAA tournaments shaking out:

District 1 Class AAAA. In the opening round of the 16-team tourney, top seed Council Rock South, No. 2 Abington, No. 8 West Chester Henderson, No. 10 Coatesville, No. 11 North Penn, No. 12 Ridley, No. 13 Central Bucks South, and No. 14 Neshaminy advance.

So, we expect five upsets in the first round: Neshaminy over No. 3 Unionville; C.B. South over No. 4 Plymouth Whitemarsh; Ridley over No. 5 Garnet Valley; North Penn over No. 6 West Chester Rustin; and Coatesville over No. 7 Spring-Ford.

In the quarterfinals, C.R. South battles past similarly run-happy Henderson; Ridley, with a rugged defense, ousts Matt Johns and C.B. South; Abington's balance proves too much for Coatesville; and North Penn handles familiar playoff foe Neshaminy.

In the semifinals, Ridley stymies quarterback Brian Donnelly and C.R. South's wishbone offense, and North Penn, impressive in recent weeks, gets a chance to defend its crown by ending Abington's stellar season.

The AAAA champion?

Continuing the momentum it has gained since falling apart in the second half of a Week 3 loss to St. Joseph's Prep, North Penn ends the Cinderella story, beating Ridley, 21-19, and claiming its second district title in the last four years and fifth overall.

District 1 Class AAA. In first-round action, No. 1 Pottsgrove downs No. 8 Pope John Paul II; No. 5 Strath Haven avenges a regular-season loss and defeats No. 4 Marple Newtown; No. 2 Springfield (Delco) trips No. 7 Academy Park; and No. 6 Interboro squeaks past No. 3 Phoenixville.

In the semifinals, Strath Haven fights past Pottsgrove, and Springfield dismisses Delaware County neighbor Interboro.

In all-Central League final, Strath Haven and Springfield meet again. The Panthers won, 28-7, on Oct. 28. Kevin Clancy's squad keeps the upper hand with a 26-14 triumph over the Cougars.

Last week: 6-1. Overall: 84-30.

Friday

District 1 Class AAAA

No. 16 Upper Dublin (7-2) at No. 1 C.R. South (9-1), 7 p.m. C.R. South's defense, led by tackle Andrew Cohen, will make things tough on QB Andrew Derr and the Cardinals. Pick: C.R. South, 34-14.

No. 9 Downingtown East (8-2) at No. 8 Henderson (8-2), 7. It's an intriguing rematch between the Cougars and Warriors. Henderson took Round 1, 42-20. Pick: Henderson, 30-28.

No. 13 Central Bucks South (7-3) at No. 4 Plymouth Whitemarsh (8-1), 7. C.B. South handyman Dan Brown and PW signal-caller Russhon Phillips are terrific playmakers. Pick: C.B. South, 24-23.

No. 12 Ridley (8-2) at No. 5 Garnet Valley (9-1), 7. The Jaguars have won nine in a row, but we like the Green Raiders to avenge last month's 21-19 setback. Pick: Ridley, 27-20.

District 1 Class AAA

No. 5 Strath Haven (7-3) at No. 4 Marple Newtown (7-3), 7. We like the Panthers in this semifinal, even though the Tigers won easily, 24-7, in the regular-season meeting. Pick: Strath Haven, 26-20.

District 1-12 Class AA Subregional

No. 3 Imhotep Charter (6-3) at No. 2 Springfield, Montco (10-0), 7. Rising end Byron Cooper and the Panthers need to keep close tabs on Clay Ewell (1,254 rushing yards, 15 TDs) in this semifinal. Pick: Springfield, 17-16.

Saturday

Inter-Academic League

Chestnut Hill Academy (7-2, 4-0) at Malvern Prep (8-1, 4-0), 1. Look for the Friars to secure their first outright title under Kevin Pellegrini. They shared top honors in 2009. Pick: Malvern, 27-14.


Contact staff writer Rick O'Brien at 610-313-8019, robrien@phillynews.com, or @ozoneinq on Twitter. Read his blog, "The O'Zone," at www.philly.com/ozone

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